Most Interesting: Derrida and the Interest(s) of Literature

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This article homes in on the adjective 'interesting' in Derrida's assertion that 'literature is the most interesting thing in the world, maybe more interesting than the world'. While this claim is often quoted, and glossed, what Derrida means by 'interesting' has gone unexamined in the critical literature on this interview. This is the more interesting insofar as 'interest' is often a category that seems to be deprecated in Derrida's work. Drawing on Sianne Ngai's illuminating work on interestingness as a specifically aesthetic category, the article explores why and how it might be that literature is superlatively and exorbitantly interesting for Derrida. In doing so, it focuses in particular on the thinking of interest in Given Time, which text - it argues - is at least as interested in interest as it is in the impossible gift, offers the most thorough-going thinking of literary interest in Derrida's work, and posits such interest as itself a gift.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDerrida Today
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 Feb 2023


  • Jacques Derrida
  • the gift
  • interest
  • literature
  • Sianne Ngai
  • Given Time
  • This Strange Institution Called Literature

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